Make Your Mental Well-Being a Priority
Parenting is more than a full-time job. A survey once conducted, found that mothers worked about 98 hours per week, which is the equivalent to working 2.5 full-time jobs. When one thinks of self-care, the idea of putting on your own oxygen mask before you help your child pops to mind. It’s important for parents. If your self-care is strong, you will be able to use parenting tools and techniques that match your values. If your self-care is solid, you will enjoy time with your children more. If your self care is consistent, it builds resilience and a buffer to help you survive the inevitable challenges and stresses that come with parenting.
In as much as your wellness is important, so is the well-being of your teen. As a parent, you play a huge role in supporting your child’s mental well-being. Nurturing and loving care builds a strong foundation, helping your child to develop the social and emotional skills they need to lead a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.
That is why it is important to show that you love and support them and that you can help them navigate tough times and that you are always there for them.
Here are four things to keep in mind when having that ‘how-are-you-doing?’ conversation with your teen and to show that you are always there for them.
1. Encourage them to share their feelings.
Look for ways to check in with your children. Ask them how their day has been or how they are feeling, or even what’s on their mind. It could be by inviting them to join you in a task, such as preparing dinner, so you can use the time to chat about their day. Here’s how you can navigate mental health questions with your children in the different age groups, 0 – 5 years; 6 –10 years; 11 – 13 years; 14 – 18 years.
Remind them that you are there for them, no matter what and that you want to hear how they are feeling and what they are thinking. A few simple words of encouragement can help them feel comfortable sharing their feelings with you.
It is important to acknowledge and understand emotions they might be experiencing, even if it feels uncomfortable. When they open up to you, you can respond with “I understand”, “it sounds like a difficult situation” or “that makes sense”.
It can be easy to notice the things your teen is doing that you do not like but also try to notice and praise them for something they are doing well — even something simple like cleaning up after themselves.
2. Take the time to support them
Work together on setting up new routines and achievable daily goals. You could fit in home chores around schoolwork or set a target like getting homework done before dinner.
Adolescence means independence! Try to give your teen the appropriate time and space to be on their own. Needing space is a normal part of growing up.
Find a few ways you can support and encourage your teen to take breaks (from schoolwork, housework, or other activities they may be working on) to do things they enjoy. If your teen feels frustrated, work with them to brainstorm some solutions to problems.
Try not to take over and tell them what to do.
3. Work through conflict together
Listen to your teen’s views and try to sort out conflict calmly. Remember: everyone gets stressed! Never discuss an issue while you are angry. Walk away, take a breath and calm down — you can talk with your teen about it later.
Avoid power struggles. With the world feeling unpredictable and options looking limited right now, teens might be struggling to be in control. As difficult as it can be in the moment, empathise with their desire to assert control in a scary time, rather than attempting to fight back or overpower it.
Be honest and transparent with your teen: you can let them know that you are experiencing extra stress as well. Showing them how you deal with your own difficult feelings can help them know their feelings are okay.
When there is conflict, take some time to reflect on how you and your teen can resolve it. You can discuss these reflections with your teen, so they see how you are processing ideas.
4. Care for yourself
Caregivers have a lot to deal with. You also need care and support for yourself. Practicing self-care is also a good way of modelling the practice to your teen.
Don’t wait to ask others for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. It is normal and okay to feel this way. Make time for your own relationships. Try to find a few people that you can share feelings and experiences with. Set aside some time with them each day, to check in on how they are feeling.
Make time in your day to do the things that help you cope and manage with stress. Whether your day is busy or slow, we know that making time to look after yourself is essential for your well-being. Doing the things you like or simply taking a few minutes off from your day can help you feel relaxed and re-energised.
Try different positive coping strategies that work for you. Some ideas include exercising, talking with friends, making to-do lists or planning ahead, maintaining routines and structures, reflecting on what you are grateful for or proud of, and doing things you enjoy like music, art, dancing and keeping a journal.
Remember parenting doesn’t have a manual and healthy relationships with your children don’t happen overnight. Be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time. Speak to our AskNelson counsellors today on how you can prioritise your well-being as a parent you the well-being of your family.
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ACTION FOR WELL-BEING
12 days of self-care
Prioritise your well-being this month. Cut out and join in on the challenge.
Challenge your friends and loved ones too.